Ice fishing arrived in force around Chicago fishing and the next couple weeks should be good, as outlined in this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
The MFR appears in a condensed form Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page.
The photo is Ray Hinton with a northern pike caught over the weekend on Wolf Lake.
Ice fishing is virtually area-wide, even in many Downstate areas.
Ice fishing is it. Click here for the ice fishing regulations on area public sites.
AREA WATER LEVELS
Go to http://water.weather.gov//ahps2/index.php?wfo=lot to check area water levels and projection. To get to more specific gauges, even on creeks, in Illinois, go to http://waterdata.usgs.gov/il/nwis/current/?type=flow
CHAIN O’LAKES AREA/FOX RIVER BACKWATERS
Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports & Marine said, “We are cranking. It is happening.’’ Usual ice-fishing spots are best–south bay of Channel and Pistakee Bay–for bluegill and some crappie; add catfish on Marie; East Loon and Deep are also producing.
Tom Cahill at Barnacle Bob’s on Lake Marie said there is 5-7 inches of ice, though he advised caution around current areas. But he said most of the fishermen were fishing off the Thirsty Turtle on Channel.
Check updates at Fox Waterway Agency or by calling (847) 587-8540.
For more reports, see http://www.foxlakefishing.com/
COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS
MAZONIA: I was unable to confirm ice conditions today and whether the lakes are open or not. If I do, i will tweak. Monster Lake at Mazonia South is open year-round. Lakes are open daily 6 a.m.-sunset. HEIDECKE: Closed. BRAIDWOOD: Closed. LaSALLE: Closed.
DELAVAN/LAKE GENEVA AREA, WISCONSIN
Brian Gates at Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle said Delavan is “super’’ on west end for bluegill and crappie, in 14 or 30 feet on mid-lake south shore for walleye; Como has good pike; Geneva has 300 yards of ice in Geneva Bay, should be fishable soon.
DES PLAINES RIVER
POWERTON: From both site staff and staff at Riverside, fishing has been tough largely because of regular ice coverage on the main lake. That could change if the plant pumps hard. Shore fishing is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Boat fishing reopens Feb. 15. NEWTON: If you are looking for open-water fishing, especially for largemouth, this is your lake from numerous reports. HENNEPIN-HOPPER: The decision on whether to hold a day of ice fishing in February will likely be made this week. Otherwise, it will reopen to fishing in 2016 with a much expanded format. EMIQUON: Because of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s shutdown, fishing and boating permits will be done at the launch. Call (309) 547-2730. SHELBYVILLE: Check with Ken Wilson of Ken Wilson Guide Service. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Check with Jason Johns of Boneyard Fishing McMASTER LAKE at SNAKEDEN HOLLOW: Closed to fishing until Feb. 1. EVERGREEN: Bait shop is closed.
Larry Dozard of larrysfishinghole.com also had these updates:
SANGCHRIS LAKE –* THE WEST and EAST ARMS OF LAKE and Small AREA NEAR DAM ARE CLOSED DURING WATERFOWL SEASON to boat traffic effective Oct. 14th (last day to boat fish will be Oct. 13th) through Jan. 31, 2016 (during this time fishing boat traffic is permitted in the center hot arm only).
BANNER MARSH – ** THIS AREA WILL CLOSE TO BOAT FISHING Oct. 14th (last day to boat fish will be Oct. 13th) –AND BANK FISHING ONLY ALLOWED AFTER 1PM but NO FISHING ALLOWED in EAST POINT ACCESS AREA, which is CLOSED TO ALL FISHING to provide a GOOSE REFUGE AREA during season till Feb. 1st – –
CLINTON LAKE – REMEMBER an easterly area of Clinton Lake between the DeWitt (CH14) and the 48 bridges is CLOSED FROM OCT. 10th through MARCH 31st to protect fish and wildlife…
NEWTON LAKE – As written in the fishing regs booklet : ** The cold arm of Newton Lake shall be Closed daily from one-half hour before sunrise until 1:00 pm to all fishing and boat traffic except for legal waterfowl hunters during waterfowl season commencing with regular duck season through the close of the Canada goose and regular duck season.
* For here – Regular South Waterfowl Season: Nov. 14 – Jan. 31
GREEN BAY/STURGEON BAY
No update this week from Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay.
The Wisconsin DNR posts a report, typically updated on Tuesdays at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html
Illinois Valley Outdoors is open in Spring Valley. The phone is (815) 663-1000.
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station said he had not heard of anyone going out recently. But when they do, they are catching fewer but larger steelhead. Access points for Trail Creek can be found on the Trail Creek Access Map.
No update this week. Some serious ice floes are building in sections of the river, which remains high.
LAKE KOSHKONONG, WISCONSIN
Steve Palmisano at Henry’s Sports and Bait said ice in the harbors is approaching 3 inches, but use extreme caution; ice is NOT safe at 87th or 89th; good perching is going inside the harbors, especially at DuSable, by those fishing from piers. PIER PASSES: The $6 pier passes, which allow legal access to selected piers in selected Chicago harbors, are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait.
MADISON CHAIN, WISCONSIN
Gene Dellinger at D&S Bait said that “ice is everywhere, even Mendota has 7 inches,” where walleye and pike are fair off Governor’s Island and perch reports are just starting. There’s decent bluegill on Monona, Squaw and Turville bays; a few walleye on Waubesa’s main lake basin while Kegonsa is producing some nice perch, not a lot but what caught are nice.
MENOMINEE RIVER, WISCONSIN
Check with Mike Mladeik at Mike Mladenik Guide Service.
MINOCQUA: Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop sent this:
A near mirror image of the previous week’s weather (nicer temps on Thursday and Friday, temps falling through the day Saturday followed by below zero and wind on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) put participation levels on par with the week before, but, results were somewhat better.
While ice thickness continues to baffle (not building as fast as it should), reports of slush on top of lakes that do have 9-12” of ice, with not a lot of snow is a problem.
Truck travel is still NOT advisable despite all the sub-zero weather. Snow depths are low enough for quad and snowmobile use.
Pike: Good. Lots of action fishing this past week. Pike are taking shiners on tip-ups. A few reports of low oxygen on smaller lakes requiring anglers to keep baits 3-4’ off bottom where the oxygen levels are better. While lots of anglers reporting bulk of action from 18-24” fish, a few mid 30’ers caught to keep things interesting.
Perch: Good. Access to deeper water as ice thickens adding to reports. Deeper water (18-24’) perch taking wigglers or red spikes tipped on Perch Talker rigs, Hali jigs and Northland Forage jigs. Less numbers, but, better size perch found fishing soft bottomed, weedy depths of 7-10’. These fish are more interested in meat. Medium fatheads, gob of waxies on a Vingla spoon or #2 Swedish Pimple working well. While depth providing numbers, shallow fish providing size with perch of 10-13” being caught by punching and moving.
Bluegills: Good. Action in 7-12’ weeds using Fly jig or #10 Moon Glos tipped with a waxie or Moussees. A few anglers starting to find deeper gills over sandgrass flats of 16-22’ using a #3 Tungsten jig to get down quickly with a single spike.
Walleye: Fair-Good. Cold kept many walleye anglers in shacks where Jigging Raps, spoons tipped with minnow heads were working well. Fish need to be “coaxed’ into biting once seen on locators. Leave some “goodies” hanging from head on center hook of Raps or Slender Spoons. Medium walleye suckers on tip-ups over sandgrass humps also working.
Crappies: Fair. They are there! Anglers dropping cameras are seeing hundreds in bays. Night time anglers making “loads” of fish on breaklines, but they are very tight lipped. Seem to be very affected by high barometer. Small windows (30-45 minutes) each day of activity followed by shut down. Tip jigs with small slice of Gulp-Alive for added scent to entice light biters.
Largemouth Bass: Fair-Poor. Just don’t like the cold. Bit during the end of the week on medium shiners on tip=ups, but, shut down during weekend cold weather.
Another warm up for this weekend forecasted. Let’s hope it stays that way. Daytime highs in the 20’s and winds from a favorable South West. Things should improve this weekend.
Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are both viable options for winter fun now that snow has fallen. The freezing temperatures will only heat things up for ice fishing. Ice depths of 8 to 12 inches have been reported on most of the smaller lakes, with larger lakes having ice depths of up to 6 to 8 inches. For fisherman willing to venture out into the subzero temperatures, the fishing has been good.
Walleye: Best action starts in the late afternoon until after dark, with peak action at dusk. Using shiners for bait, the best location has been to set up near drop offs as the fish move into shallower water to feed in the evening.
Northern: Action has been very good during the daytime, so set tip ups in the morning to get fish all day. Large shiners are the best bait. Experienced anglers are setting tip ups in the weeds.
Perch: Good action in the weeds. They’re settling a bit deeper in the weeds than Bluegills. Crappie minnows, waxies or wigglers are working the best for these fish.
Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station said ice fishing is going hard, Loomis has 5 inches. Willow Slough is iced, but fishing has been slow (snow cover might help). Shore fishermen taking a few browns and early coho at Port public access.
Remember Mik-Lurch closed.
ROOT RIVER, WISCONSIN
The Wisconsin DNR Root River Report is generally posted on Tuesday.
ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN
Phil Schuman at Tackle Haven said not much going.
ST. JOSEPH RIVER, INDIANA
Click here for reports from the Indiana DNR.
Lakeside staff reported ice is 5-6 inches with catfish good in deep trees; crappie (good on Swedish Pimples) are active in the barn foundations and trees. NOTE: Lakeside–open 8 a.m.-noon, Monday-Thursday; 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday-Sunday during ice fishing–rents Vexilars, cameras, augers and ice tents. For more information and reports from Lakeside, go to shabbonalake.com or call (815) 824-2581.
The Wisconsin DNR posts a report at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/OutdoorReport.html. It is usually posted by Tuesday afternoon. Stream flow info is at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow.
As Ray Hinton showed above, ice fishing is here for parts of Wolf Lake.
WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN